Russia: Lost in Transition Essay

1567 Words 7 Pages
Historically, Russia’s relationship with the West has been shaky at best. From the Crimean War in the 1850’s to alienation following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution all the way up to the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been “under attack.” This has forced them to adopt a mentality that is based in self sufficiency and autarky. As Western nations attempt to strengthen democracy in Russia in the 21st century, Russia has responded negatively to these perceived “intrusions.” Therefore it is important to ask what role the West should play in Russia’s development and what is hindering this from happening? In her book Russia: Lost in Transition, Lilia Shevtsova outlines two different ways the West can approach …show more content…
With the United States merely using Russia as a means to an end, negative feelings brew among the Russian elite which causes any positive partnership to promptly end. In fact, Russian’s began to perceive actions by the United States as counterproductive to Russia’s security. These would include the lingering presence in Central Asia and the support of the “orange virus” in previous Soviet space (232-233). Overall, the United States taking a merely strategic interest in Russia did nothing to develop the country or positive relations with the West. Neither side could find common ground on what each side hoped to accomplish, and gain from the other. These differences however are not only based in motive but also in ideology. Although relations appeared to be in good standing for a period of time, Robert Legvold points out that “Common interests there are. Common values remain to be demonstrated” (227). Russia has a history of authoritarian rulers, from Muscovite princes to the Tsars, culminating in the rule of Soviet leaders for almost 75 years. The economic structures of each nation also create a barrier to cooperative dialogue. After the shock economy of the 1990’s destroyed the Russian infrastructure, Putin took a more invested interest in the economic workings of his country.

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